Trainer Lester Alexis could be one of the proudest and happiest person at Santa Rosa Park in Arima, should his three-year-old colt Arsalan continues to beat the top three-year-olds in training.
So far this year, the colt has been exemplary winning both his starts and looks the likely favourite for the first jewel of local racing’s ‘Triple Crown’ the Guineas. Looking back at history, since, 2014 the Trinidad Derby has been won by three trainers, with champion trainer John O’Brien being the most successful with four successes in the prestigious “Blue Riband’ event over 2000 metres on the main track. Two of O’ Brien’s Derby wins came from ‘Triple Crown’ winners. In 2014, Momentum landed the goods for the top conditioner before Wise Guy landed the triple last year. O’Brien has saddled seven Derby winners and is just one behind ‘Hall of Famer trainer, the legendary Eric ‘Colt’ Durant who has saddled eight winners.
Glenn Mendez, the first trainer to land the prestigious “triple Crown’ series at the centralized facility, when he saddled the Wilma Primus owned Carnival Messiah in 2001. Mendez repeated the feat two years later with the aptly named Top Of The Class in 2003. The thoroughbred was ridden by another Hall Of Famer, jockey Ricky Jadoo. Mendez saddled back-back winners in the Trinidad Derby in 2018 and 2019 through Cape Canaveral and Juice Man.
This year the complexion of the ‘Classics’ could take on a different look with Lester Alexis being the conditioner of leading three-year-old Arsalan who is owned by Nigel Amin.
This three-year-old by Da Vinci/Fallen Angel created a very good impression at the centralised facility when he won the Royal Colours Classic, over 1350 metres on the main track. But, last time out, racing on the turf track for the first time and also racing around two turns for the first time, Arsalan gave a polished performance in winning, cementing his position at the top of the market for the Guineas.
Arsalan won his second Graded race on the trot when he won the feature Grade Three - Chief Commander Classic over 1600 metres on the Turf Course at the Santa Rosa Park two Saturdays ago and looked every inch a ‘Triple Crown’ horse. Before that, his performance in the Royal Colours Classic, showed Arsalan in a very good light, as created a very good impression at the centralized facility. That day he came with a well-timed run to stop the hat-trick seeking Super Bird in the feature Royal Colours Classic.
Alexis does not hide his obvious delight in Arsalan landing his second Graded event in his career and he stated, "I am very happy to have won that event. I am indeed very happy for the owner Nigel Amin, jockey Rico Hernandez and the rest of the team. We know the potential of this horse and we expected him to go on to better things."
“Last time out we were very confident and his victory came as no surprise to us. Once he has the pace to run at he will be good and though Super Bird went three lengths clear of him at the top of the straight, I was not worried because I know he can finish."
However, he has been improving and has been maturing in the past month. He is still green and maturing and clearly, we have a very good horse on our hand.”
What has prompted the improvement in the performance of Arsalan, Alexis said, "We have him on a new programme and we are seeing the results. There is still a lot to be done but we are getting there, one step at a time. His condition is improving and we are very hopeful. We continue to build him up and we will not rush him. I am certain that we are doing the right thing. I think he is going to race early in May before being set for the first classic at the end of May. I must thank owner Nigel Amin for giving me the chance to train a horse as good as this one. I have never trained a classic horse and this one Arsalan could be something special.”
"But like is said, "Performance beat Old Talk and Arsalan has shown, that he has class and the ability to win the 'Triple Crown."
Based on the performances of Arsalan this season, we could well be seeing a new trainer rise to the top ranks in Trinidad and Tobago.